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CLICK to enlarge.

The Ma’ohi people

The ancestors of the Ma’ohi progressively settled in the Polynesian Triangle a few centuries before our time. The Marquesas were the first islands in our country (the "Fenua") where these intrepid navigators landed, after coming from the West (Samoa and Fiji and before the Philippines, Borneo and New Guinea, in Southeast Asia). The Marquesas were used as an exploration "hub" for all future migrations. From this mythical archipelago, this people gifted with an unshakeable will power, sailed the Pacific to three major directions to form what is known today as the Polynesian Triangle: to the North to Hawaii, to the West to New Zealand and to the South to Easter Island. Hawaii was reached in 400 A.D., while the Society Islands were settled 2 centuries later. They first reached the shores of Raiatea, the Sacred Island, from which they swarmed throughout the neighboring islands. Some bolder navigators sailed on further South to the Austral Islands and finally to New Zealand (900 A.D.). Meanwhile another group ventured East and discovered the Gambier before reaching Easter Island, (500 A.D.). When totally settled, the Polynesian Triangle experienced serene growth before the arrival of the first European at the end of the 18th century.

How do we know that this is one single and same people that is at the origin of the Pacific's settlement? We'll skip the dubious theory supported at the time by the Kon Tiki expedition in 1947, which tried to prove that the Polynesians came from South America. Today no more doubt is left. Through cross sudies, the scientific world is adamant:the cradle of our ancestors is located somewhere in Southeast Asia. The archeological remnants found throughout the islands impose an unquestionable truth.

CLICK to enlarge.All these bold explorers of the Pacific had a great number of common habits and techniques, which leaves no doubt as to the one and same origin of their civilization. Their odyssee features strange similitudes. Their tendency to scrupulously use the three worlds, animal, vegetal and mineral, in their artistic expression is unique. Whether in wood, stone or vegetal matters, the representation of their gods show that these people were under the rule of one single and same divine influence. The famous Polynesian tiki , grinning assembly of woven reeds and feathers in Hawaii, is finally carved in wood in the Marquesas or in volcanic rock in the Australs... and even in Easter Islands, the moai, these huge stone statues, are their ultimate representation. The common social organization of these people shows as many significant analogies. The particular techniques for fishing, culture, but also fruit gathering and animal raising are found in similar forms throughout all the islands of the great Polynesian Triangle ...

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The revival of tatooing...

 

Most of the plants found in our islands come from Southeast Asia, except for the sweet potato, which is at the source of a controversy. We know today that the Polynesians brought with us, on their big double canoes used in their migrations, coconuts, some vegetables (ignames, taro, uru) and typical fruits (banana, etc.), as well as animals (pigs, dogs, chickens and... rats). But the discovery of "lapita" pottery definitively confirms the origin of the Ma’ohi people. This original pottery technique (as much in its forms as in the motifs used) is found throughout the Polynesian Triangle as well as in Melanesia and Southeast Asia. Other work uncovered similarities in some 1,800 languages spoken throughout the Pacific all the way to the Philippines. Even Navigator James Cook was quite amazed in the middle of the year 1769 when he left Tahiti with a Ma’ohi named Tupaia on board, when he observed a month and a half later when landing on the shores of New Zealand 4,000 miles further, that he could communicate with the islanders who came on canoes to meet the ship. For all these people, scattered all over the Pacific, it is oral tradition that unifies them through some magic cosmogony. Nothing written could be found, as tattoos only had an aesthetic function. Knowledge was thus transmitted orally, from fathers to children, from chefs to their successors, etc. The Ma’ohi civilization didn't know the written language, or at least did not use it.

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